From a reader…
A cousin of mine was baptised in the Catholic Church as an infant to fulfill the wishes of persistent grandparents. But was in no way raised in the Church and never recieved any other sacraments – is she Catholic? And bound by the laws and precepts of the Church? She is marrying a man (whose religious background I know nothing of) outside of Church (obviously, shes never practiced or known the faith), is this, in the eyes of God, a valid marriage? Or would it be valid only if she married in the Church? I have been asked to be in the wedding party and wish to know the waters I am navigating.
Thank you for your priesthood and guidance.
Baptism has effects and consequences. When one is baptized into the Catholic Church, one is – forever and always – a member of the Catholic Church.
One might never darken the door of a Catholic Church after the baptism, but one is still always a Catholic. As a Catholic, one is bound by the laws of the Church.
This is one reason why the Church insists that, for a child to be baptized, the parents consent to it, and the priest (or deacon, or bishop, or authorized lay person) have a reasonable hope that the child will be raised in the faith.
This is one reason why just baptizing any child that is brought around may not be the best idea: there are consequences 2o years down the line, such as an invalid marriage.
Insistent grandparents notwithstanding, baptizing a child when there is no reasonable hope that the child will ever be taught the faith, go to Holy Mass, receive the sacraments, or otherwise practice the faith, is not a good thing. If the grandparents are going to insist on the baptism of their grandchildren, then they are obliged to follow through with the catechesis and formation of their now-Catholic grandchildren.
Every baptized Catholic is bound by law to observe the Catholic form of marriage, for validity.
Since this is the Church’s law, the Church is able to dispense from it.
The marriage of a baptized Catholic outside of the Church, and without obtaining a dispensation, is invalid.
However, it’s hard to imagine that someone who has never practiced the faith would even be aware of the need for a dispensation, let alone have the understanding of how or why to obtain it.